Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | February 4, 2010

Belated MLK Comment

The genius that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr applied in the U.S. Civil Rights movement hit several key points.

  • Invoked Natural Law.  MLK invoked the same Natural Law arguments made by the Founding Fathers.   When the legitimate government – all branches – exercise illegitimate power – or, today, unConstitutional power – and immoral power, then legal government is acting illegally.  It is the responsibility of individual men and women to decide to obey or resist.
  • Used Non-Violence.   MLK saw the effectiveness of Gandhi’s use of Non-Violence as a tactic with operational – as  motivational – and politically strategic consequences.  In its application, he knew his culture and his neighbors well.  If the Civil Rights protests had used violence, they would have been met with overwhelming violence.  MLK knew how a white minority kept control of a black majority in so many counties across the South throughout slavery and segregation times.   Consider how the ‘hot summers’ of the 60s didn’t happen in the South.   Watts started it off – in Los Angeles – and was followed across the North.   Even the rioting that followed the MLK assassination in 1968 was more limited in the South.  Prudently so for the those days.
  • Provoked Over Reaction.  MLK was more in the mode of Christians during the persecutions under Roman Emperor Diocletian than Gandhi.  Because the people watching what was happening were sensitized Western Christians and Jews, not the divided oriental culture kaleidoscope of the Indan sub-continent, the state sponsored violence struck a chord.  It was far from the violence of Diocletian.  It was far from the Czar’s Cossacks riding down protesters.  But, in our place and time for America, it was way too much violence because people wanted to pick their own seat on a bus.  Or sit at a counter for a sandwich.  Or, vote in an election.

We should recall that the Civil Rights movement was called “civil rights”, not “Negro” or “Minority” rights.  This is important, because it points to the sad epilogue of Civil Rights.

Civil Rights were demanded for black Americans to have all the same individual rights as every other American.  That Civil Rights Movement was victorious by 1965.  It took a decade to pull it all together through elections.  But, the Civil Rights struggle was over – and a victory for all Americans.

What followed was fundamentally wrong.   We still suffer as a Nation, and as individuals, because an important, good movement became a bad business, a political special interest serving a constituency kept in servitude, and an arm of the insidious Political Correctness.  But, I’ll list the laments on another day rather than sully the father with the sins of sons.

Speaking of which, this father MLK, shouldn’t be deified by this singular holiday.  We should have a Civil Rights Day – and it should be called Civil Rights Day.  If a single person should be named in national holidays, then such recognition should be given on CHRISTmas Day and George Washington’s Birthday.


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